Workplace Resources

Manners Matter at Work

Original Publication: January 13, 2016; Edited and Republished October 10, 2022

Everything that occurs at work, both good and bad, is affected by the workplace environment. Positive behaviors and trust compose an effective foundation for the workplace, which will withstand conflict and bumps in the road. Practicing good manners can contribute to a strong work environment.

It is important to use good manners at work in order to foster an environment of politeness and civility. An example of good manners would be to say thank you, excuse me, I'm sorry, greet, etc. By incorporating manners into our work lives, we encourage people to behave professionally and appropriately, which in turn creates an environment of courteousness and good conduct becomes expected for all employees. 

Relationships at work are also strengthened by good manners. It is important to thank someone after they have done something for us. They feel appreciated for their work and validated as employees. Collegiality and mutual respect are built through this process. 

I was in a difficult meeting where important decisions had to be made, tension was evident among the participants. Despite this, the leader displayed impeccable politeness and manners. As the leader thanked people for their contributions, he moved the meeting forward so that decisions could be made. As a result of their kindness and manners, the leader had no trouble facilitating the meeting.
The leader gently interrupted those who wanted to keep talking by thanking them for their contributions and moving on to the next person. It was a respectful way to move the agenda forward without alienating anyone. Even with the increased tension, it ended up being the best meeting I've ever been to. The leader's talent for civility is to be credited for this.  

Manners seem like a basic skill that every worker should have, and it is practiced at work today. Good manners, however, are often the first to go when bullying, harassment, or toxicity is present. The importance of rewarding politeness and consideration must be validated by leaders and workers in the workplace. While good manners don't guarantee that bullying won't happen, they set an expectation of civility. Good manners and civility at work contribute to a strong work culture that can resist and prevent toxic and bully cultures.

Call to Action:

Keep track of how many times you use manners in the workplace this week.